Osseo Meats in Osseo, MN

Jason Walker / Heavy Table

Jason Walker / Heavy Table

There are plenty of ethical, buy-local shoppers who aren’t on the grass-fed-beef bandwagon. Its sinewy texture and pungent flavor can feel alarming, and making a sloppy joe with grass-fed beef can be nearly impossible without a voracious jabbing effort to break it up in the skillet. And newspapers seem to teem with beef horror stories, making one question the worth and safety of eating red meat at all. Further, buying beef you don’t enjoy because it’s the ethical thing to do, well, that’s hardly satisfying, especially at today’s per-pound prices.

Compromise at old-fashioned butcher shops like Osseo Meat Market and Deli, a suburban institution that prides itself on service, quality, and the virtues of homemade summer sausage. Dick and Fay Welk, who have owned Osseo Meats for 30 years, and their plentiful staff are helpful, knowledgeable, and talented in the art of small-town butchery. In the vast metro area, businesses that offer conversation, prices, and quality like that at Osseo Meats are exemplary. Here, you can spend $50 and walk away with a bag full of meat, know exactly how to cook it, and feel good about it.

Osseo Meats buys from a wholesaler. Its meat comes from several states, including Minnesota. It’s not grass-fed. But they make their own summer sausage and sell it for less than $5 a pound, and it’s delicious — not at all greasy, mild and soft. It’s a simple pleasure done right. Monica Albeck, the Welks’ daughter, said her family’s business prides itself on its homemade quality, offering items like fresh jerky, bacon, hams, sausages and bratwurst, jalapeno-olive cheese spread, horseradish sweet pickles, salads, lutefisk, Swedish potato sausage, lefse, jalapeno-cheddar beef sticks — you name it.

Jason Walker / Heavy Table

There’s also a full deli selection, but it’s dwarfed by what must be a 65-foot service case with eye-grabbing steaks, roasts, tenderloins and seafood, which is where the service comes in. Albeck said that with meat, there can be a lot riding on your purchase, and often face-to-face help ensures dinner comes out right. “When you’re buying a prime rib at $9.99 a pound, nobody wants to mess that up,” Albeck said.

Noon weekdays, though, is dominated by the lunch bar, where everything costs $5.45 a pound. Sandwiches are make-your-own with several high-quality, yet no-frills, meat, bread / roll and cheese choices, and the vast tray of specialty condiments is not to be missed. The hot bar consists of bratwurst, soup and a daily special, usually a nap-inducing turkey tetrazzini, goulash, meatloaf or salisbury steak, sometimes even paired with sides like potatoes and green beans. A decently-equipped sandwich paired with a couple spoonfuls of goulash won’t run more than $6 or $7, helping you afford one of the homemade desserts atop the deli case.

Jason Walker / Heavy Table

And for those who can’t resist trying a new mustard, meat rub or horseradish sauce, Osseo Meats has a plethora. It’s hard to decide what there’s more of — bottles, jars and cans of seasoning goodies or metal tchotchkes hanging above in display cases. It’s like the Cracker Barrel times ten. You’ve never seen so many die-cast metal cars, trucks and tractors.

Osseo Meats is well worth the trip, especially since Fleet Farm is right across Highway 169. Which is perfect, because saving so much on steaks leaves enough cash for a die-cast John Deere tractor.

Osseo Meat Market & Deli
Butcher and deli in Osseo, MN

344 County Rd. 81 E
Osseo, MN 55369
8am-6pm Mon-Wed, Fri
8am-7pm Thu
8am-5pm Sat
Closed Sunday

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About the Author

Jason Walker

Jason Walker was born and raised in Kansas, where he grew up loving his grandmother’s homemade noodles and weekly fried fish. A summer internship in Milwaukee turned Jason and his wife, Leita, into die-hard fans of the Northwoods culture, and they moved to Minneapolis in 2006. Immediately the quality of food and drink in the Twin Cities was impressive – that even the most unassuming bar usually had a decent menu – and Jason knew he was home. Now living in the Fulton neighborhood with two kids, Jason grows tomatoes, cans voraciously, and badgers his neighbors with conversations about restaurants.

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  1. pinecone 01/05/2010 Reply

    Soooo many reasons to choose grass-fed beef that trump simply buying local, IMO. If I didn’t like grass-fed beef, I would not eat beef – period. This is like telling people to go ahead, eat bluefin tuna because it tastes better than albacore or yellowfin.

  2. Declan 01/05/2010 Reply

    For those of us in the Twin Cities, I see no reason to go anywhere but Clancy’s. It’s all local and Kristin deals directly with the farmers who produce the meat she sells. As soon as I see the word “wholesaler” I’m completely turned off.

  3. NordeastB 01/05/2010 Reply

    Jason, would like to know whether Osseo grinds their own hamburger. But with Fleet Farm across the highway, it’s a better deal to buy a grinder there and do my own.

  4. While Clancy’s is great, it’s pretty far from Osseo and I’m sure people out in that direction want to know about options that are nearer by. And even though I don’t get out that way much, I appreciate articles like this that tell me about things that I don’t already know.

  5. pinecone 01/05/2010 Reply

    Clancy’s is great but you can deal directly with farmers yourself by shopping a farmers’ market. Prices are lower than stores and you can buy in bulk from many vendors.

  6. BigBlock427 02/14/2010 Reply

    They told me that they grind their ground beef daily, and that they often have to make 2 or 3 200lb batches a day just to keep up. Just my opinion, but I would never assume that because you are buying direct from a farmer, or a retailer at a farmer’s market, that its a better quality or that it has less “stuff” in it. If I did receive a bad product I would rather go back to a family owned small business that been there for 30+ years and has a proven track record of quality products than to go back to booth #??? the next week looking for who sold it to me. Again, just my opinion.

  7. YouAreWhatYouEat 12/06/2010 Reply

    I just talked with them and their meat is all grass-fed. Who wouldn’t want to buy from here, knowing they aren’t stuffing more corn in our bodies.

  8. Grass Fed beef varies throughout the year. I would not accept broad generalizations about sinewy texture or pungent flavor. I think this might be hyperbole. There is plenty of room for diversity in the industry.

    Meats at farmers markets are frozen in all instances I have encountered. It is quite easy to sell middles (steaks and chops everyone knows how to cook/grill) and much more difficult to sell the ends. This creates an inventory management nightmare. Buying bundles of meat directly from a producer far easier for them to manage than juggling a traveling frozen meat market with individual cuts. A bundle has representative cuts from the whole beast. It requires an “engaged cook” or someone who is interested in learning traditional techniques for cooking the less approachable cuts.

    Cutting steaks and roasts from boxed primal cuts is indeed challenging. Coaxing revenue from the trim through added value processing is both an art and a science. Osseo has a ton of cred for doing this with pride.

    Concerning yourself with husbandry standards, traceability, and supporting local agriculture costs more. It’s no wonder that $50 buys a haul of meat (with prime rib at $9.99 per pound).

    I think the window for enjoying beef will begin to narrow in our lifetimes. It takes around 2500 pounds of water to yield a pound of beef. Take a look at the whole formula, and it’s likely that the sustainability of this system will be seriously challenged.

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